A few days ago, I realized that I was probably the only Asian in Sydney that have never been to Wagaya before. Well, I've BEEN there five times, but I never got to actually DINE there. For you hikikomori-s (shut-ins) out there, Wagaya is that immensely popular, always packed, uber hi-tech (in Sydney's standard anyway) izakaya in Chinatown that opened their doors for business in the beginning of this year. Cla has been there before, and on her post, she mentioned that one should get a reservation when one wishes to dine there - even on weekdays - but silly me, I decided to ignore her tip. Five times.
Well, they say sixth time is a charm, so on the sixth occasion that I visited Wagaya, I actually get to eat there, too. It sure helped to book a table in advance (I don't believe in luck. In my life, I've never been significantly lucky).
It was a full house, with superfluous amount of people waiting to get a table. After smirking smugly at those poor, hungry and hopeful potential diners *suckerss*, my companions and I proceeded to our table. Well, I'm sure all of you dear readers have heard about their fabled automated ordering system using touch-screen computers (if not, refer to Cla's Wagaya post). Press a picture of a sushi boat, and the said item will be delivered to you in no time. Press a picture of a glass of water, and a nice, smiling waitress would be ready in front of you holding a pitcher of iced water in a matter of seconds. You get the drill.
It's all fun and novel, and apart from the fact that one of my companions kept on talking and talking about the OS (Operating System) behind their automated touch-screen device *yawn*, I'd say that my dining experience was moderately pleasant. Pleasant, but a little bit impersonal. I don't know...I mean, call me an old grampy, but it's as if I was dining in a restaurant operated by robots. I'm all for technology (in fact, that's my line of business), but I much prefer a human being taking my orders, thank you very much.
-> Standard. Predictable. But not bad. In fact, I often order chicken karaage in a restaurant I've never been to before because I know there's little chance a restaurant can screw up a karaage. You know, in case the other dishes are bad, at least there's a standard-tasting karaage.
-> Err...hit-and-miss. The beef is good, but somehow the rest of the ingredients fail to 'cohere' with each other. In nabe (skillet) dishes, it is important that different ingredients are used, but there must be some sort of 'cohesion' between them. I especially object to the over-mushy tofu and the fact that they add carrots and bean sprouts to the dish - which IMO do not cohere with the rest of the ingredients. It is also worth noting that carrots and bean sprouts are almost never used in cooking a traditional sukiyaki.
-> A nice, innovative dish. Tender, melt-in-your-mouth ox tongues combined with a pleasant medley of curry-tomato-ish sauce, topped with grated parmesan. No wonder they recommend this dish.
-> Not the best I've tasted in Sydney (that distinction belongs to Azuma's and Takeru's delicious chicken nanban), but okay. I love how the tartar sauce is light airy.
-> A typical Hokkaido dish. Very nice, especially for me who just LOVE eating 'difficult' portions of a fish. By difficult, I mean fleshy parts of fish that are obscure and requires a skill to actually extract the meat part and eat them. Think fish head curry (love 'em).
Anyway, the soup is delightful. It's kind of like akamiso, but slightly sweeter.
-> Nice. From the texture, I can tell that it's slowly grilled in open fire.
-> Slightly below average. Be careful when ordering ramen, especially when you're not in a ramen restaurant.
-> Minty, sprite-y, and turquoisey. Can't complain. (better still if it is spiked, LOL)